The Denver Nuggets, one of NBA’s best offenses, was without its second-best player on Tuesday, as Jamal Murray was a late scratch due to a knee injury.
It didn’t matter much.
The Detroit Pistons fizzled toward the end of the first quarter after a competitive start and loss on the road to the Nuggets, 134-119. It was the second night of a back-to-back for the Pistons (15-36).
In his first game in Denver since leaving the Nuggets last offseason, Jerami Grant scored a game-high 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting. Saddiq Bey also had a big night, setting the all-time Pistons rookie record with 106 made 3-pointers this season. Bey finished with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting (6-for-12 from 3) and Frank Jackson scored 11 points off of the bench. Nikola Jokic led Denver with 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Killian Hayes missed the game due to injury management for his right hip.
Bey makes Pistons history
Bey had a chance to make franchise history entering the game. With 105 made 3-pointers this season, he was tied with Brandon Knight for the all-time record amongst Pistons rookies.
He broke the record at the 7:15 mark of the first quarter to become the franchise rookie leader. He did it in just 49 games. Bey certainly benefits from playing in today’s NBA, which allows him to take a higher volume of 3-pointers per game than his predecessors.
But it’s a testament to his talent, too. He was shooting 37.6% from 3 before Tuesday and was second amongst all rookies in attempts and makes behind Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards.
It ended up being a notable night for Bey beyond his record-setting performance. He cracked the 20-point threshold for the first time since March 19 and fell one short of his career-high in made 3-pointers in a game. After shooting 8-for-33 combined in his last four games, Tuesday was a needed bounce-back performance for him.
Grant excels in return
The Pistons were initially scheduled to play the Nuggets on the road on Feb. 1, but it was postponed. So Grant had to wait an extra two months to face his former team. Grant’s decision to leave Denver to grow with a rebuilding Pistons team was one of the biggest stories of the offseason last year. He played like he had something to prove.
Grant scored 16 of his 29 points in the first quarter and aggressively looked to get to the rim. If it were a closer game, he might’ve played more than just 30 minutes and cracked the 30-point threshold for the 10th time this season. But on a night where few Pistons could get their offense going, Grant and Bey were two bright spots.
Jackson emerges as 3-point threat
Jackson didn’t have a reputation as a 3-point marksman entering this season with the Pistons. He shot 31.4% and 32.6%, respectively, during his first two seasons in the league.
He’s been on a tear since March 15, knocking down 21 of his 44 attempts (47.7%) from outside coming into Tuesday’s game. He continued his streak against the Nuggets, going 2-for-6. It has helped him become a constant in the rotation; he’s played all 13 games since March 15 after appearing in nine games before then.
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